How to Create and Organize Vector Elements for Infographic Design
Why creating infographics?
Infographics are a powerful visual aid to help visitors explain concepts. Here are some ideas in which creating an infographic can help:
- Presenting yourself: infographics are a tool that can be helpful to present yourself. It is a simple yet creative way to present your skills, experience in a simple and creative manner. On the other end, companies can use infographics to hire people they are looking for.
- Presenting poll results: the best way to present research results. Statistics and numbers can be boring and often distracts the reader. With the use of an infographic, you can grab the reader’s attention. Because all data are presented in a simple and clear manner, a reader can view results in a quick and pleasant manner.
- Presenting complex data: infographics are useful for education. The main goal for the use of an infographic is to simplify complex data. Therefore it is an excellent way for presenting an overview of a detailed analysis.
- Explaining working concepts: products functional demonstrations can be explained by using an infographic
- Other: comparisons, knowledge base, tips and tricks, information, maps, annual reports, brand awareness …
For this tutorial: city promotion
In this tutorial, I’m creating an infographic to promote the city of London. It’s a combination of using a map of the country to localize the city: where is London on the UK map - and facts of the most popular buildings. A city promotion infographic is used a lot to give a potential visitor of the city an impression of the buildings (what is the highest tower), the people, public transport, the most interesting places to visit, musea, resto’s, squares, shops, … City promotion infographics are versatile: they can be used on websites, social media and in print without the need to change the complete layout.
The style is simple, clean and minimal. For clarity, I’m using minimal style. By using vectors in the infographic, the flexibility towards exports is big: the infographic can be exported for web use, for print, for mobile devices, … because of resolution independency of vectors. Therefore the tutorial will be explained in Adobe Illustrator.
To keep a time restriction, it’s a good idea to organize the priorities in which the design will be assembled. For this tutorial:
- Using artboards to collect vector elements (city shapes, buildings, charts, nature elements, people)
- Defining color and style
- Adjust the elements to defined colors and style
- Repeating and scaling elements
- Create the infographic layout
- Finetuning and tweaking elements
- Adjusting paths
Organize vector elements
Start by collecting and organizing all elements for the composition into artboards to drive up the design process time. In Adobe Illustrator, you can work with artboards and give each artboard corresponding dimensions. Each individual artboard can be exported as a single file.
Before I start my search for vectors online, it’s a good idea to create a list of keywords so I don’t forget any topic for the infographic (London, Big Ben, …). I searched Freepik.com for vectors and downloaded the ones that I’m going to use in the final infographic.
Here’s a list of the vectors i searched for on Freepik.com for use in the infographic for this tutorial - make sure you look for vectors as Freepik distributes also icons, PSD’s and photos!
- London city silhouettes
- St. Paul’s cathedral
- UK map with London
- London elements with teapot and cup
- London landmarks set
- London heart flat icons
Once you downloaded/bought the vectors, you can start by giving each vector an artboard for reference
Convert the artboard to the dimensions of the vector element:
- Make sure the element is selected by clicking on it
- Go to Menu > Object > Artboards > Fit to selected art
Defining color and style
Setting the color and overall style
To keep the style of the infographic consistent, it’s a good idea to first define the colors and style.
Two colors are defined and a couple of strokes. Save the colors to the Swatches panel.
Setting the style:
- Make sure to open the Appearance Panel
- Go to Menu > Window > Appearance
- Select a vector element and make sure the fill and stroke colors are set to transparent
- Select New Stroke in the Appearance Option panel.
- Set the stroke to 2pt and give the blue stroke
Saving the styles:
- Make sure to open the Graphic Styles panel
- Go to Menu > Window > Graphic Styles
- With the element still selected, click the button "new graphic style" at the bottom of the Graphic Styles panel
Adjust the elements to defined colors and style
Adjust imported vectors
Placing downloaded or created vectors will rapidly result in a variety of styles that need to be converted to 1 consistent style. Every element can be adjusted by clicking the defined style in the Graphic Styles panel. Make sure all vector elements have a transparent fill and stroke before applying a graphic style to it. Some vectors paths will need to be adjusted before applying a graphic style.
For some vectors, a thicker stroke will work better combined with a thinner inner stroke.
Repeating and scaling elements
Repeating elements can be done with the Transform Effect panel
- Make sure to select the element you want to repeat
- Go to Menu > Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform
- Move the element horizontal or vertical, here the element is moved 25px to the right, use negative numbers to move to the left.
- Options: choose to scale Strokes & Effects and insert the amount you want to repeat
Create the infographic layout
Creating the layout
Most of the times, the infographic will have a main title. Set the title big and use a legible font for the title. In most cases, the layout will be sketched out on a piece of paper before you start with the digital version. Stick to the sketch to define the areas in the infographic.
Tweaking elements for final design
You can spend a lot of time, finalizing elements by replacing, scaling, adding or subtracting things, the list goes on … In this tutorial, the elements will be given a lighter background color to pop out the page.
- Make sure to select the element you want to repeat
- Go to Menu > Object > Path > Offset Path
- In the dialog box, set Offset to 3px and Joins to Round and make sure the preview box is selected.
- Click OK
- Now change the stroke to the fill by clicking the little arrow above the fill and stroke and give the fill a light blue
Keeping the style consistent
After a while, some details will show some inconsistencies, like the map has rounded borders, for the overall style, it would look much better to have straight lines for the border of the map. Adjusting this can be done:
- Make sure to select the element the map
- Go to Menu > Object > Path > Simplify
- In the dialog box, under Options check Straight Lines and make sure the preview box is selected.
- Click OK
- Now we map will have a more consistent look with the rest of the infographic
- Giving the map a lighter background will make the map pop more from the background
In this tutorial, i’ll explain the process of organizing and creating vector elements to help in the designing process of an infographic.